This poll season, the Maoists and other rebel groups in Jharkhand have come out all guns blazing — not to scuttle polls but to prop up candidates of their choice.
There was no call from the top rebel groups to boycott elections, which, otherwise, is the stage for fierce battle with security forces.
The CPI (Maoist) and nearly half a dozen other ‘rebel’ outfits are suspected of backing candidates. Officials in the police headquarters in Ranchi talk about intelligence reports that point to this covert relationship.
“Some of the candidates are blood relatives of Maoists leaders who have either surrendered or are active,” said a senior IPS officer.
In Maoist-affected Chatra, which went to poll in the first phase, the candidate of a national party is alleged to have links with rebels.
The Tritya Prastuti committee — a breakaway faction of the Maoist group allegedly patronised by the Jharkhand Police — has canvassed for particular candidates in Latehar and Chatra districts. One of the candidates in Chatra is the wife of a Naxal commander. The constituency saw a contest between Girija Singh and Vinod Sharma, both former rebels.
“We have reports about Maoists visiting people to seek vote for a particular candidate,” said an intelligence officer.
Jharkhand Police headquarters also has reports about Maoists and other insurgent groups supporting candidates in Ghatshila, Torpa and Kolebira Assembly constituencies that went to poll in the second phase of the election on Tuesday. In Tamar, JMM candidate Salomi Turi, the wife of a jailed Maoist, took on the notorious CPI (Maoist) sub zonal commander Kundan Pahan’s cousin, Ravinath, a JVM candidate.
West Singhbhum Superintendent of Police Narendra Kumar Singh claims insurgents have given the customary boycott call in some pockets of Saranda forest, but are not in a position to enforce the call.
“The one big reason is that they have been flushed out of most parts of the forests,” Singh claims. Incidentally, the polling percentage in Saranda forest in the recent Lok Sabha election jumped to 70%, almost double the 2009 figures.